photo of army soldier holding a care package

How to Send a Care Package to Military Personnel: From Selection to Shipment

Last Updated: December 14, 2023By Tags: ,

How to Send a Care Package to Military Personnel: From Selection to Shipment

Wondering how to send a care package to military? Sending a care package to military personnel is a heartfelt gesture, demonstrating your support and appreciation for their service. From selecting the right items to packaging and shipping them correctly, every step of the process requires careful thought and planning. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the process of sending a military care package from selection to shipment.

1. Determine the Recipient’s Needs and Preferences

Start by considering what the recipient might need or want. Personalized packages that cater to their individual needs, tastes, or hobbies will be particularly appreciated. If you don’t know them personally, stick to universally useful and enjoyable items, such as non-perishable food items, toiletries, reading materials, or small games.

2. Understand the Rules and Regulations

Different regions and military installations have specific restrictions on what can be sent in a care package. Some items, like alcohol, firearms, or pork products, are generally prohibited. It’s essential to familiarize yourself with the rules to ensure your package passes customs without issues. USPS maintains a list of restrictions for each APO/FPO/DPO location that can be very helpful in this regard.

3. Choose the Right Items

Once you’re clear about the regulations, carefully select the items for your care package. Consider the recipient’s location and the package’s travel time. Non-perishable foods, travel-size toiletries, books or magazines, small games, and personal letters or cards are always good options. Remember that practical items like socks can double as padding, saving space and cost.

4. Properly Address the Package

Addressing the package correctly is crucial for it to reach the right person. Include the recipient’s rank, full name, and unit details. Use the appropriate APO/FPO/DPO designation and the correct regional code (AA, AE, or AP), along with the nine-digit ZIP code. Remember, do not write the actual country on the address.

5. Pack the Items Carefully

Choose a sturdy box and arrange items strategically. Heavier items should be placed at the bottom, with lighter, fragile items on top. Fill any empty space with additional padding (use practical items like socks) to prevent items from moving during transit. Securely seal the box with packing tape to ensure it stays closed throughout the journey.

6. Fill Out a Customs Form

All packages sent to military addresses overseas require a completed customs form. This can be a daunting task, but online platforms like ShipThrifty streamline the process by allowing you to complete the form digitally. Ensure each item in your care package is listed along with its value.

7. Select the Right Shipping Service

When choosing a shipping service, consider factors like cost, delivery time, and reliability. Online platforms like ShipThrifty offer discounted shipping rates and provide tools to create prepaid shipping labels, making the process more affordable and convenient.

8. Send the Package

Once the box is packed and addressed, the customs form is completed, and the shipping label is attached, it’s time to send your package. It’s a good idea to retain any receipts or tracking numbers until you’ve confirmed that your package has arrived.

9. Follow Up

After the package has been sent, consider following up with the recipient (if possible) to ensure they received it. If it’s been a few weeks without word, use your tracking number or check the package tracking tool on to check the package’s status.


Sending a care package to military personnel may seem challenging, but with a little planning and the right tools, it can be a simple and rewarding process. Remember, it’s not just about the items you send; it’s also about the love, support, and gratitude that each package represents. Whether you’re a seasoned sender or a first-timer, use this guide to ensure your next military care package is a success. If you need help, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at ShipThrifty – we’re here to make shipping easier for you.

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